September 5, 2015

How to save money on groceries AND eat organic

Organic Dinner
Organic Dinner, Home grown, Home Raised
With today's food choices in the grocery store, it's hard to eat healthy.  If you want to avoid GMO foods and eat vegetables without herbicides and pesticides and grown with synthetic fertilizers it seems you need to shop organic and buy many things in specialized health food stores.  This is definitely not a thrifty approach to grocery shopping.  But I know how you can make at least one third of your diet non-GMO and organic for less than you pay in the grocery store.

Grow your own vegetables and raise chickens for eggs.  This summer my vegetable garden is finally large enough that I haven't bought vegetables from the grocery store for two months.  And I haven't bought eggs in about six months.  This significantly lowers my grocery bill.  It's expensive to buy organic eggs and organic vegetables.

heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
You can have a pretty big variety of vegetables to eat from your own garden and can even eat a little bit of a many kinds of vegetables in one meal.  You don't have to eat a huge head of broccoli, you can eat broccoli side sprouts, a couple of beets, a small salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber, potato salad, mashed potatoes.  Another day you can steam kale and carrots.  These are all vegetables that I grow without any herbicides, pesticides or store bought fertilizers.

If you're wondering how this is possible here's what I've been doing.  I feed the chickens loads of kitchen scraps which then turns into nice chicken coop deposits.  I then compost these directly over the garden in winter and in a compost bin during the summer.  I don't till the garden beds so all the micro organisms in the soil remain healthy.  I do a bug check on the garden every day or so and pick off any leaves where bugs are laying eggs and pick off any caterpillars and give them to the chickens.

For fruit in early summer we pick wild strawberries and wild raspberries.  I have planted some berry plants in the garden but these aren't mature enough to produce very much fruit yet.

September 1, 2015

Price Matching Demysified to Save Money On Your Groceries

Price Matching

Price matching is a great way to save time and money.  When I started living on a tighter budget, the first thing I thought of was to save money on groceries.  I picked up the local paper with all the new grocery flyers for the week and started circling good deals at all the stores that sell groceries in my small town.  But I quickly realized I wouldn't have the time to drive to each store individually.

For a few weeks I narrowed my shopping down to two stores, I'd go to the cheaper one first and then the more expensive one every weekend.  But that became a bit too much leg work and I was still missing out on great bargains.  So I decided to take the plunge and start price matching.

The only reason I hadn't done it before was that I was scared.  I thought it would be embarrassing to do at the cash register with all the other customers lined up behind me.  So I decided to take a baby step first.  I circled one great deal in a flyer and shopped for the item at Walmart and then price matched just one item.  This ended up being quite painless.

The next weekend I went all out and circled at least 10 good sales and found most of them at Walmart and price matched them.  This was a little more painful because I had to separate out the price matching items from the rest of my shopping and then flip through various flyers to show the cashier.  But when I walked away with saving $20, I thought the pain was definitely worth it.

You can use a smartphone and show the ads on your phone, but of course I cut my internet usage plan on my phone, so old fashioned free newspaper is the way for me.  Below are my top three tips on how to make price matching easy.

Tips on how to make price matching easy:

Tip 1.  Get a thick bright marker to circle the sales you want in each flyer.  Write on the front of each flyer the type of food that is in it.  ie.  If toilet paper is on sale at Loblaws then I circle the picture of the toilet paper and then flip to the front page and write toilet paper on the front of the Loblaws flyer.

Tip 2.  When you shop, keep all your price matching items in the front child seat area so you they don't get mixed up with regular priced items.

Tip 3.  Put all your regular priced items on the conveyor belt at the cash register first and then your price matched items.  This gives you a chance to get your flyers straightened out before the price matching items make their way up to the cashier.

Note that all stores have different or no price matching policies. These are posted usually on their website or in tiny print somewhere on the flyer.

May 2015

Save your vegetable steaming water

One thrifty tip that has saved me from buying stock at the grocery store or helped me out when I slow cook without planning ahead is to save the water from the pot after you've steamed some veggies.  

Pour the water, once cooled into a freezer bag and freeze until use.  When you're ready to use it, you can thaw it out in a bowl of hot water (keep the stock in the bag zipped up), or just toss it in the pot with your roast.  This adds lots of flavour and you only have to spend less than a minute to save the veggie water.